One of the first places I walked to today was the tiny village of Junction. This first picture isn't much of anything- a long view of the metropolis. Junction isn't much of anything. 30 years ago when I was here, the few houses standing were in poor condition with yards filled with junk and broken down cars. I am sorry to tell you that nothing has changed.
But Junction used to be someplace very important.
The Wabash-Erie canal came east from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and the Miami-Erie Canal came north from Cincinatti. The two canals met and became one at Junction. From there, they continued on to Lake Erie.
Dealing with two canals and various other waterways was sometimes quite an engineering challenge. Canals had to be nearly level with changes in elevation accomplished by means of locks. However, local natural waterways already had their own stream beds. What do you do when they cross each other at different elevations?
Here's one solution. In this surviving culvert, Little Flat Rock Creek was sent underneath the canal. Pretty impressive!
On the road bridge at (big) Flatrock Creek you can see evidence of canal era stonework, so I'm thinking that waterway was also somehow diverted or controlled. Since it also crossed the canal, it must have been dealt with.
As I was walking along, I saw this rounded stone and said to myself, "That's a mile marker." Sure enough there's an interpretive sign. Which is good since the number is unreadable. But it's mile marker 181 from Cincinatti.
A bit farther on is Lock 21. This one is in pretty good shape. There is also another constructed channel next to it, which had to be either overflow or feeder water. Keeping the correct level of water in the canal at all times was no simple feat!
Here is my current helper, Cindy, and her fur friend, Bridgee. They have been walking out to meet me at the end of the day. When I see them coming, I know I'm close to finishing!
Now let's go back and talk about the trail. Some of today was nice towpath trail. In most places you can still find the old canal prism- see the depression to the right of the trail? It may have more or less water in it. There are only a few places where it has been restored to a nice waterway, but whether it's cleaned up or not, it's amazing to think about boys leading the mules that pulled the boats for miles and miles and the people and products that traveled by that means. From the 1830s to the late 1800s, canals were commercially important. Railroads were taking over by that time, and the great flood of 1913 damaged a lot of the canal infrastructure, ending the era.
Here was today's adventure. This is the view from the top of the Little Flat Rock Creek culvert. You may be able to just see blue blazes down there. The trail was supposed to go across that and come out to the road. Ha! I wasn't interested in getting wet to my knees.
I bushwhacked down the other side of the culvert and managed to get across with only wet feet. I knew that was probably inevitable today anyway, so I can't complain.
Yesterday I was tired, achey, cranky, and wondering if I could really do this hike. Today, I felt strong and energized and confident. The difference? Who knows? I just have to take things one day at a time.
Miles today: 15.6. Total miles so far: 437.3.